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Sarasota-based 'Harry Potter' illustrator opens abstract art show

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Mary GrandPré's “Bad Theater Mom” is one of the works featured in a new exhibit at Art Center Sarasota by the artists best known for her “Harry Potter” illustrations.

Mary GrandPré is a hard working artist. Her work as an illustrator is very well known. Search her name on Google. It quickly reveals that she illustrated the “Harry Potter” novel series and other children’s classics – and also created conceptual art for “Antz,” “Ice Age,” and other animated films. That artistic path is familiar to the world. But GrandPré loves the road less traveled. Abstract painting is her new artistic direction. In the following conversation, she reveals what led her down that path.

“Conjuring the Backstory” showcases your new series of mixed-media abstract paintings at Art Center Sarasota. What “backstory” are you talking about?

The backstory of the paintings. Each piece evolved over a long process. I’d create one painting, and then paint another on top of it, and keep going layer by layer. So, there are really many layers of paintings beneath the surface. In the final version, I’ll go beneath the surface. I’ll gently remove layers by sanding or tearing away the collage papers I’ve applied. Revealing the different layers below the painting’s surface allows the viewer to witness its rich history. It’s almost like creating a scar to expose the artwork’s past.